Musical intensity decreases driving performance: an exploration by mood and arousal
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Background: Music has been described as a 'human obsession' (Levitin, 2006). Music can both elicit and convey a variety of emotional, physiological and cognitive responses, transforming moods, and effecting behavioural changes (Juslin & Sloboda 2010; Juslin & Vastfjall, 2008; Krumhansl, 2002). Research has suggested an interactive 'co-dependent' relationship exists between driving and music, where the vehicle exists as a mobile 'sound chamber' for the delivery and consumption of music, enabling the manipulation of affective states by changing the tune and/or turning up the volume (Oblad, 2000, cited in Brodsky, 2002). However, studies suggest that loud music has a negative effect on driving behaviour (Dibben & Williamson, 2007). British road safety figures indicate that young drivers are particularly at risk to serious injury or death on the roads (Department for Transport, 2013). Aims: The present study investigated the effects of self-selected music, played at increased levels of intensity on driving performance, in a population of 18-26 year old drivers. Method: 25 undergraduate students aged 18-26 years (M=21) completed the study. A quantitative design was employed to calculate the effects of four levels of intensity on measures of Mood, Arousal, Driving Performance and Speed. Results: Increased musical intensity had a significant effect on positive Mood ratings ((p<0.001), whilst negatively affecting driving performance, as shown by an increased number of Errors (p<0.05). Conclusion: Listening to loud, self-selected music whilst driving is an impediment to road safety in populations of 18-26 year olds. Further investigations into the mechanisms that link music to driving impairments are warranted. Cognitive processing conflicts vis a vis task performance are suggested.
BSc (Hons) Psychology
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